So here’s another excerpt from the collection of short stories. I’m slowly working on it, and I apologize for the delays on that. On everything. A story has eaten my life!
This one is “The Thread of Life,” and it stars Dingus’s grandmother, Rhialle. Enjoy!
You know what happens when you wrap a thread around your finger again and again, real tight? How it goes all purple and red, with white dents where the thread is if you leave it long enough. Rose’s heart felt like that, and the thread pulled so taut it was a wonder her ticker kept on ticking. It was Mouse drawing her that way, she knew. When she lay in her bedroll of a night, writhing sleepless with the torment in her chest, she knew it was Mouse. And it wasn’t like she didn’t want to be with him. She wanted that more than ever. It was just that Rose couldn’t bring herself to give in.
When the road wore her down so hard that her pain didn’t matter, and her lids drooped and fell on their own, she dreamed of him. Wild Mouse—Cabhan. She dreamed their life together, dreamed loving him body and soul. She dreamed his death, and his ruined face, and the blood in his soft brown hair.
She hadn’t even known until it was too late. Busy, she’d been, killing the other two. She couldn’t remember what for. That was how bad she’d gotten, and she knew that, too, even in her dark-shadowed corner of the drab, washed-out world. Everything felt as dry and knotty as her own unwashed hair. She couldn’t unwind a thing. So she walked.
“She should be dead,” they’d whispered at the chapter house. Behind their hands, as if she couldn’t hear it, and soon they didn’t take the trouble to hide it anymore, and the talk was all whether or not they should lash her to his pyre. She took off like a shot then, best believe, though now she wondered why she’d bothered. They’d been Rootbound, Rose and Mouse, twined together by magic so they were as much one person as two people could be, and from the moment he died she’d felt black, sucking mire around her feet. When they burned him, she felt it over the miles between. Not the flames, no, but the draw of his soul as it flew for the Garden. And that thread wrapped so tight she swore it sliced her heart to pieces.
She walked. And sometimes she thought she saw him, out of the corner of her eye, a flash of his hair, a glimpse of his sun-brown hand lifted to touch her, but his voice never sounded and his fingers never caressed.
Rose was alone. Her feet kicked up road dust in the hot afternoon. Sweat ran down her back inside stiff clothes, worn who knew how many days. She didn’t know where she was, but her shuffling dragged long furrows in the dirt behind her—shorter and shorter until she fell on her face. Why move? She lay there watching boots pass around her. “Drunk,” they said. The Traders’ tongue sounded like crows protesting. “Vagabond.” Sometimes, “Whore.” And they laughed, but why move? No point to it. No matter how far she got from the chapter house, one thought of sweet dead Mouse tore at the wound that never scabbed.
She said nothing.
“Excuse me, miss?” There was a touch on her shoulder. She dragged gritty lids open to look on a fellow whose age she didn’t give a shit about. He had a sharp face and round human ears, and his hand on her shoulder was hard. “Are you all right?”
“The fuck you think?” she croaked through chapped lips.
“You don’t look all right,” he said.
“Good eye.” She turned her face away from him.
I hope you found that as enjoyable to read as I did difficult to write! Since everyone has been (I hope!) patient with me, here’s a look at the cover.
See you next time!